Hello everyone, I'm sorry I haven't been active for a while, I've been extremely busy with work.
Earlier this afternoon I made a heartbreaking discovery. When I got home at around 3:50pm, I went to check on my outdoor birds as usual. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for what I found in the gouldian aviary.
My poor birds had been attacked, all 4 finches and 2 quails dead. I will not describe the gruesome scene, however, there is no doubt that something had fed on them.
I was and still am extremely distraught, and I immediately my roommate.
He came home from work early and helped me to deal the trauma.
It is still unclear what exactly was responsible but we do suspect rats. There are a few aspects of the ordeal that do not really point to rats buy in any case, we were hoping that, taking into consideration the following findings/ aspects, you could either confirm this theory or come up with a new one. *please note I have left out most details of the bird's condition, unless they are necessary as they may be too upsetting for some-if you do wish to know, and if everyone complies I will explain*
Birds not yet stiff
One finch appeared fine but was still deceased
This bird still warm at 4:40pm
Bones were consumed
Guinea pigs were not affected and seemed unphased(they have free range of the yard)
Cat was outside entire day
Happened between 1:55pm- 3:30pm
Roommate did not hear anything before leaving for work at 1:55
Would have had to have been fast to catch finches
Only main aviary was affected (this aviary is a double door aviary, and three quails are housed in the first compartment, these were fine)
Most likely would have needed to be able to climb
Quail Eggs were not eaten
Little disturbance in branches and bark
However a thick piece of bark was cracked as if something heavy stood on it
No faecal matter left by attacker
No teeth/gnaw marks present anywhere in aviary (that we can see)
Latches of doors were still done up
Neither door was open
Inside of aviary is lined with bricks, slats on wood rest upon bricks meaning that the aviary floor is raised around 7cmoff the ground
Only one small hole in corner approx 4cm x 2cm in size, but was covered with bark and sand
Seed was not eaten
Otherwise no other known entrances
If it was to come from that hole, would have had to burrow under aviary first
Side Gate was locked and yard is completely sealed
Live in coastal Queensland, Australia
We have ruled out cats, foxes, possums, bats and wild birds as there are no holes large enough for them to enter and exit again, our pet cat would also be spooked, and nothing apart from the birds have been disturbed. Also keep in mind it occurred during the day.
We have also crossed off snakes, as entire birds were not swallowed, and after feeding, snakes become lethargic and do not move as they digest their meals, meaning that it would still be in the aviary.
I am still upset and it is bothering me even more that things aren't adding up, and I'm determined to find out the culprit.
The two two photos were taken after removing all substrate. They are to show the possible entry and also if you're unsure what I mean but the avriay floor being raised.
The others are photos I took only yesterday of the beautiful birds that were killed.
Also if anything I've said makes you uncomfortable please let me know and I will edit.
So sorry that you had to come home to that scene and hope you can can get some answers soon to make things safe as much as possible.
I'm from England so very unfamiliar with your flora & fauna but just thought I add a suggestion - it might be a good idea to ask a reputable pest control company to come out and assess your aviary set up. They'll be the people who know very well the unbelievably small spaces that creatures can get through and have a lot of past experience to draw on.
Best of luck
Thank you very much for your condolences.
I think that you may be right and that I do need to get pest control to come examine the aviary and hopefully help me figure out what it was that is responsible.
I will look for a trustworthy organisation in the morning.
Thank you again for your sympathies.
It really is horrible and it is still so surreal that 6 of my birds, including the two babies finches that were only just beginning to colour up are gone for good. It will feel so weird tomorrow to not need to go outside and feed them, and instead to see an empty aviary.
I am terribly sorry to hear of this tragedy . I can surely understand your emotions and shock over this. Please accept my condolences for your loss. I agree with the suggestions made above, and I hope that you will be able to find an answer.
A similar thing happened to a big finch breeder friend of mine a number of years ago in the lower Blue Mountains near Sydney. He came home to find more than half his finches wiped out. He also could not see a hole big enough for a rat or anything to get through. It turned out to be a small carnivorous marsupial which I think was called an Antechinus which is a type of marsupial mouse.
But rats can get through an incredibly small space, can chew through the mortar between bricks and get through that gap. They can chew through concrete of at least 3 inches. I stopped that problem by breaking up glass bottles and putting them on the ground before laying the concrete. Rats cannot chew through the glass. And rats are not just around after dark. They will hunt in the daytime as well.
Thank you everyone for your kind words, it really means a lot to me.
This morning when I went to check the aviary for any more signs, I did find some kind of rodent faeces inside. It seems as though the attacker returned, lucky I brought the other quails inside.
Kate, would you happen to know if Antechinus are present in QLD ?
I called up a pest control groups also, and from the details I gave, they too thought that rats were the only things capable of an act like this one.
It is weird though, we have not ever seen rats on our side of the fence, but ever since our neighbours got a snake removed, they've complained that the number of rats in their chicken coop have increased, so they've probably come from there.
In any case, the pest control group explained that unfortunately not a lot cannot be done on their part, as the aviary is wooden and would soak up the chemicals making it potentially toxic for the quails, budgies, my cat and guinea pigs if we move them back in/ over that side of the house.
They did say, however, that there were several things we could do ourselves that would not harm the pets, and have been known to successfully treat rat problems in most occasions.
The options they gave me were;
-snap trap them
-plant mint around the area or scatter mint leaves
-gather cat urine, faeces or soiled cat litter and place it in containers inside and around the side of the house
-crush eucalyptus leaves everywhere in that part of our yard
-dip cotton buds into peppermint oil
-dip cotton buds into caster oil
-put citronella candles around the area
So we can see if it's working, we were also told to put some kind of food favoured by rats.
They then said that once all the rats were gone, we should try to fill any gaps with steel wool.
As we do not particularly like harming animals (although it will be difficult we understand that we may have to), my roommate and I have opted for planting mint and collecting soiled cat litter in containers.
We will check in the morning to see if there are any fresher droppings and if the food has been eaten.
Fingers crossed it works, I would most definitely not like a repeat with the budgies and other quails.